MULTAN: The Punjab Wildlife Department has decided to shift two pairs of big cats -- African lions and Bengal tigers – recovered from a factory, to the zoos in Bahawalpur and Dera Ghazi Khan, respectively.

The beasts were recovered by the department on Monday in a raid on a factory on Vehari Road after receiving a complaint.

Wildlife Department Multan Deputy Director Muhammad Hussain Gashkori told Dawn on Tuesday that the arrangements to shift the big cats to their new abodes were underway.

“Vets have been called for the checkup of both pairs before their shifting. The pair of tigers will be shifted to DG Khan Zoo and of lions to Bahawalpur facility,” he said, adding that apparently the three-year-old animals were healthy.

On the orders of the wildlife secretary, he said, the raid was conducted with the help of local police on an application submitted by a citizen to the department’s head office in Lahore.

“The price of both pairs will be between Rs6m and Rs7m,” he said, on being asked about it.

He said that to shift the both pairs, special arrangements had been made and relevant equipment was brought from other districts. He said Secretary Dr Nasir Mahmood had granted the permission for the shifting of both pairs.

Mr Gashkori said mostly the tigers and lions were smuggled into Pakistan via Iran.

The officer said the persons who had kept the beasts in the factory without official permission had escaped during the raid, adding that department’s teams were conducting raids to arrest them.

On May 30, a wildlife department team had also recovered a pair of lions from the bathroom of a house in Khushhaal Colony, in a raid after obtaining a search warrant. The owner was slapped a fine of Rs130,000 for violating the breeding farm rules and guidelines under the Punjab Wildlife Act.

Published in Dawn, December 23rd, 2020

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